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Frosted drinking glass with a painted image of Fagin

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.76

Frosted glass cup with a painted scene of Oliver’s first encounter with Fagin, from Charles Dickens’ novel, “Oliver Twist.” The cup is part of a set painted with scenes from the works of Charles Dickens. The set is commonly associated with 20th-century glass manufacturers, Federal Glass and Hazel Atlas. Fagin is portrayed with a beard, a large nose, and thick eyebrows; all stereotypical physical features attributed to Jewish men. In “Oliver Twist,” Fagin is the villainous leader of a gang of children whom he has instructed in the ways of criminality. He attempts to corrupt the protagonist, Oliver, in the same manner. In the novel, Fagin is described in his first scene as hunched over a fire holding a toasting fork, imagery that reinforces the antisemitic stereotype of Jewish associations with the devil, due to its resemblance of a pitchfork. He is repeatedly referred to as “the Jew” in the book and also emphasized as a greedy, miserly, and cowardly character; all traits aligning with common antisemitic stereotypes. However, in a later edition of the novel, Dickens reduced his use of “the Jew,” substituting it for pronouns or other phrases. Even in this later version, Fagin is still repeatedly and negatively referred to as “the Jew,” and remains emblematic of multiple antisemitic canards. Later writings by Dickens portrayed Jews in a more positive light, however, the reprehensible Fagin is his most remembered Jewish character. This glass is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

manufacture:  approximately 1900-approximately 1980
manufacture: United States
Household Utensils
Drinking vessels
Object Type
Drinking cups (lcsh)
Drinking vessels.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-04-01 14:56:18
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